Winning a state championship is the ultimate goal of every wrestler competing in this weekend’s individual state finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and several Grand Haven wrestlers have a great chance to do just that.
Five Buccaneers will compete in the Division 1 state tournament beginning today. That group includes seniors Connor Moynihan at 171 pounds and Matthew Mulcahy at 215; junior Dakota Juarez at 160 pounds; and sophomores Camden Bertucci at 112 and Antonio Reyes at 130.
Moynihan boasts a 37-2 record heading into the tournament. He’s been on a roll lately, winning district and regional championships, and is the top seed in the 171-pound bracket.
He’ll open against Temperance Bedford’s David Lijewski (35-13) today.
Juarez has had an even more impressive year, going an astounding 41-0 to this point. He’ll take on Nate Smith of Hartland (35-21) in today’s opening round.
Bertucci is the one who came the closest to tasting a championship last year. As a freshman, he made it to the state championship match, where he lost to Davison’s Lincoln Olson. Olson, also a sophomore, is 42-2 this year and is on the other half of the bracket, so the two could very well meet for a state title again this year.
Bertucci opens against Detroit Catholic Central’s Parker O’Brien (33-14).
“It’s an exhilarating feeling,” Bertucci said of heading back to the state meet. “There was more pressure the two week before, but now I just have to relax. I really don’t know if we handle this any differently than any other match. You’re nervous for both.”
Mulcahy is 38-4 on the season. He finished runner-up at last week’s individual regional tournament, losing to Grandville’s Courtney Meyers. Meyers is the top seed and is on the other side of the bracket from Mulcahy.
The Buccaneers’ senior will open against Davison’s Trevor Thomas (33-12).
While the other four Buccaneers have all been to the state finals before, Reyes gets his first taste of wrestling on the big stage. The sophomore is 22-19 on the season and faces a tough task in today’s opening round as he meets Southgate Anderson’s Alex Molloy, a senior who is 52-3 on the year.
Bertucci said that even though the Buccaneers as a team didn’t advance out of the district round of the state tournament, he and his fellow Bucs definitely feel a sense of pride as a team as they head to the state meet.
“My goal is that our whole team will perform to our expectations,” he said. “That’s what we want.”
Also heading to the state meet are Spring Lake’s Billy Belcher and Shane Skorupski.
Belcher boasts an impressive 42-2 record as a heavyweight. He’ll meet Ogemaw Heights’ Tommy Dematio (45-11) in today’s opening round.
Skorupski is 27-19 as a 215-pounder and will take on Tecumseh’s Preston Pelham (46-9) today.
Fruitport will send four wrestlers to the state meet — all juniors. They are 125-pounder Alex Foster (36-7), 130-pounder Tommy Martinez (40-4), 145-ppounder Collin Butler (43-6) and 152-pounder Austin Fialek (37-7).